As we approach the middle of 2020, it’s clear that many companies will be sticking with work-from-home conditions for a long while yet. While plenty of individual jobs have long been possible to perform remotely, and some companies have practiced flexibility in this area for years, we suddenly find ourselves in an economy driven largely by remote workforces. And it’s beginning to seem as if this might not change—or, at least, we won’t get all the way back to what we think of as normal.
Indeed, it’s beginning to become a common argument that remote work is here to stay, in part because businesses are investing in the tools they need to make it convenient and effective. Essentially, by establishing communication systems, taking advantage of the best BI software, and setting new expectations for remote employees, businesses are finding that remote work can be every bit as productive as ordinary work. This is likely to mean that at least some companies stick with work-from-home arrangements even after the pandemic passes.
If that describes your company, or if you’re simply looking to make things work as well as possible for the time being, read on for some tips on how to help employees adjust to remote work policies and conditions.
Suggest home practices
We mentioned things like communications and the best BI software as elements of the work-from-home equation, and we’ll get into some more technological considerations later. Before we touch on any of that though, it’s necessary to mention the importance of suggesting home practices. You may have total faith in your employees to be diligent and get the job done no matter what the conditions may be—and they may do just that! But for some employees, the current situation makes for a massive change, and some guidance would be appreciated.
We’ve written up some tips to make working from home productive, and they make for a good place to start as you suggest various habits and practices to employees. Establishing a home workplace and routine, making to-do lists, and taking breaks all sound like simple recommendations, but together they can help to turn a home into an appropriate working location.
This can be good both for the company and the individual. Yes, a strong home working environment fosters productivity and can keep business practices going under difficult circumstances. But regulating the home working environment will also help employees to separate their work lives from their home lives, which is good for general wellness.
Set up a dashboard
Aside from the general conditions, one thing that can easily throw off an employee working remotely is a feeling of disconnection from company goals and progress. Even while contributing regularly from a distance, an employee can easily begin to feel somewhat solitary. But setting up an online dashboard can help to combat this sort of feeling by giving employees a hub at which they can visually track progress and goals.
Not every dashboard is designed the same way, and the truth is that, under the circumstances, you can make it whatever your business needs it to be. Generally speaking, this tool will provide a visualization of KPIs for sales and any related updates. But again, you can use a dashboard to display easily whatever information and updates to which employees might benefit from having quick access.
Enable online collaboration
If you’re exploring work-from-home tips and ideas, you’re no doubt familiar with some of the basic communication solutions available. It seems that just about every company operating today is using some combination of Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, and Google Hangouts to keep employees active in discussions and on the same page. Not only does this help employees to stay engaged, but it also means that information and updates can be kept in one place, such that it can be used to help compile data for a company dashboard, internal tracking, etc.
Depending on the nature of your business, though, you may be able to take advantage of or design a collaborative tool that combines communication with specific business practices. This is something some industries have exemplified in recent years even before remote work was actually necessary. For instance, architects and designers need digital platforms on which they can edit blueprints, track progress, and interact with one another. A recent piece on managing design teams remotely referenced digital toolboxes and noted that people in this industry were probably “already using a spectrum of online sharing tools,” some of which are optimized for visual design collaboration.
Electrical design has similar collaborative tools that had already helped to reshape and refine the industry in advance of the remote working trend. Viewing and sharing design material online enables people working on the most complex electrical components to help one another and track progress and changes, even if they aren’t physically working together. This has led to the creation of more advanced, modern circuit boards and will certainly benefit the industry now that so many people have to work remotely.
Again, this all depends on the nature of your business. But looking beyond basic chatting and telecommunication options, it may be helpful to find a program that specifically helps with whatever work you do, if possible.
Emphasize sales and contributions
We mentioned before, with regard to the idea of setting up an online dashboard, that it can be helpful to post KPIs for sales information or similar data and metrics. That’s for the benefit of employees looking for ways to stay on track with their efforts and projects while they’re away from work.
At the same time, however, you should emphasize sales and contributions that have already been made, so that remote employees still enjoy a sense of accomplishment and progress. This serves multiple goals. First, it keeps employees positive and proactive: that sense of accomplishment can be especially valuable for a worker who feels isolated or doesn’t have an everyday sense of company togetherness. Second, it can ultimately help with data visualization online. The more information you track about sales and other contributions, the more you can feed into your company dashboard or any similar tool meant to showcase relevant data.
Request updates for data
This last tip goes with the previous one to an extent, in that it’s about helping employees by gathering and presenting information from them. While information about sales and general progress can help with your efforts to bring about data visualization online, though, there are other things you can ask for reports on that can be useful in other ways.
It’s already being discussed that employers are tracking remote workers from afar, almost in secretive ways. But really, there’s nothing wrong with being open about the effort. For instance, you might consider asking remote employees to track their own hours, or mark down every time they find themselves working outside of ordinary business hours. Comparing data like this with information about progress, you can begin to get a clear picture of how productive remote employees are and what they’re getting out of their time. This can help you to make some strategic suggestions regarding working habits, or even give you the data you need to have informed one-on-one conversations with employees about how things are going.
Remember—at the end of the day, this is a new situation for all involved and, to some extent, it’s going to be a work in progress. With these tips, though, you can help employees to adjust, keep company efforts and progress clear, and set up an open, collaborative working environment even at a distance.